US defense secretary makes unannounced Iraq visit to meet Iraqi leaders

By REUTERS
August 22, 2017 08:48
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BAGHDAD - US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Iraq on Tuesday, just days after the start of an offensive to take back the city of Tal Afar, to speak with Iraqi leaders about the next steps in the fight against Islamic State.

Mattis has warned that the end of the militant group is far from close. Iraqi security forces launched an offensive to take back the city of Tal Afar on Sunday, their latest objective in the US-backed campaign to defeat Islamic State militants, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said.

A long-time stronghold of hardline Sunni Muslim insurgents, Tal Afar, 80 km (50 miles) west of Mosul in Iraq's far north, has experienced cycles of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi'ite Muslims.

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